List of Journal Articles

Hispanic women entrepreneur looking at a portable computer screen.

This study examines the main push and pull factors driving Hispanic self-employment in the USA by modeling the self-employment decision as a function of sectoral earnings differences, country of origin, and other factors. Findings indicate that a main reason His- panics engage in self-employment is they can earn more working for themselves than in wage/salary work. Immigrants appear to be pushed into self-employment as a result of limited opportunities in the wage work sector. Although low relative earnings in wage/salary work could push workers with limited English proficiency into self-employment, our findings indicate barriers to this. Results suggest that workers pulled into self-employment are those with more work experience and a college degree. Workers who originate from Southern South America and Colombia have relatively high self-employment rates, while Mexico-origin workers have relatively low self-employment rates. We also uncover differences across Hispanic origin groups in terms of the influence of gender, education, and personal wealth on self-employment participation.

Fisher, M. & Lewin, P.A. 2018. Push and pull factors and Hispanic self-employment in the USA. Small Bussiness Economics 51, 1055–1070.

Hispanic woman cooking

We consider the economic development potential of recent dramatic growth in Latina business ownership. Regression modeling with American Community Survey data reveals (a) compared with salaried workers, the entrepreneurial (incorporated business) and other self-employed (unincorporated business) have, respectively, higher and lower rates of English proficiency, college completion, and homeownership; (b) the median Latina entrepreneur earns more than the median unincorporated self-employed but less than a comparable salaried worker; and (c) type of work matters less to Latina’s earnings than having a college degree and working full-time. Working Latinas can benefit from educational opportunities, family - friendly work arrangements, and business incorporation. 

Fisher, M. & Lewin, P.A. 2020 Profitable entrepreneurship or marginal self-employment? The bimodality of Latina self-employment in the United States, Journal of Small Business Management.

People wearing face masks walking on a busy street

The COVID-19 pandemic that began in the United States in March of 2020 had a profound ad- verse effect on the economy. In particular, the pandemic had a harsh impact on women, minorities, and self-employed individuals. However, research on why the pandemic hit some groups harder is in its nascent stages. We contribute to the growing body of knowledge by comparatively analyzing the inability to work due to the pandemic in the wage and self-employment sectors. We utilize data from the Current Population Survey from May 2020 to May 2021 to investigate the effect of individual, business, and geographic characteristics on the probability of work interruption in each sector. We find that self-employers were much harder hit but fared better than wage workers in several of the harder-hit sectors and when they had incorporated businesses. We also find that women, non-Whites, and Hispanics were more adversely affected in both sectors.

Mindes, S.C, & Lewin, P.A. 2021 Self-employment through the COVID-19 pandemic: An analysis of linked monthly CPS data. Journal of Business Venturing Insights, 16.

Multigenarion family on the front door

Hispanics are important contributors to the self-employment sector. Their entrepreneurial activity varies by immigration status and ethnonational subgroup. We comparatively examine the self-employment of Hispanics who immigrated as adults, those who immigrated as children, and non-immigrants of four groups in the United States: Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, and Southern South Americans. We investigate intergenerational assimilation through self-employment into the three trajectories posited by segmented assimilation theory. We estimate regression models using a sample from the American Community Survey of Hispanics (n = 585,279) and US-born non-Hispanic Whites (n = 2,848,456). In a subsequent exploratory analysis, we estimate models for Hispanic origin and immigrant status groups to compare key predictors. We find that self-employment probabilities indicate distinct assimilation patterns for our origin groups. The exploratory analysis reveals different effects of important characteristics across groups. This work highlights the need for policies tailored toward the heterogeneity in Hispanics’ assimilation processes.

Mindes, S. C.; Lewin, P. A.; and Fisher, M. 2022. Intergenerational and ethnonational disparities in Hispanic immigrant self-employment. Ethnicities. 22(6), 763–793.

We use nationally representative data from the National Agricultural Workers Survey to assess gender-based differences in wages and benefits of hired farmworkers. Decomposition and matching results indicate that, compared to men, women make 5% to 6% less in hourly wages and are less likely to receive a bonus or have health insurance paid by their employer. These gender gaps are partly explained by differences between female and male farmworkers in farming experience, hours worked, farm tasks, and crops cultivated. Sizable proportions of the gender gaps are unexplained and the result of discrimination, unmeasured differences between women and men, or both.

Fisher, Monica,  Lewin, Paul A.,  Pilgeram, Ryanne.  2022. “ Farmworkers and the gender wage gap: An empirical analysis of wage inequality in US agriculture.” Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy  44( 4): 2145– 2163.

Farm operation is among the most gender-unequal occupations in the U.S. Data from the 2017 U.S. Census of Agriculture reveals that average net farm income was 151% higher on farms with a male versus a female principal operator. A decomposition analysis indicates the gender gap is almost entirely explained by differences in endowments. Female farmers have lower farm profitability than their male counterparts because their operations use far less capital (land, machinery, and labor), they have less farming experience, and they engage in the production of commodities that are less profitable.

Fisher, Monica,  Lewin, Paul A., and  Pilgeram, Ryanne.  2022. “ Gender Differences in the Financial Performance of U.S. Farm Businesses: A Decomposition Analysis Using the Census of Agriculture.” Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy  1– 21.

Ryanne Pilgeram, Katherine Dentzman, and Paul Lewin

Research on women in U.S. agriculture highlights how, despite real challenges, women have made and continue to make spaces for themselves in this male-dominated profession. We argue that, partly due to data accessibility limitations, this work has tended to use white women’s experiences in agriculture as universal. Analyzing micro-data from the 2017 Census of Agriculture, this paper offers descriptive statistics about women and race in U.S. agriculture. We examine numerous characteristics of U.S. farms, including their spatial distribution, the average number of acres farmed, predominant crop types, and other characteristics to describe how white, Black, Indigenous, and Pacific Islander/Asian women farmers are faring. Our findings suggest significant differences in women’s farms by race. We argue that these are related to the history of forced and voluntary migration within the U.S. Our results indicate that understanding women’s experiences in farming requires understanding the impact of race and these broader historical patterns. Finally, because of these differences across races, we suggest that supporting “women in agriculture” may require tailored responses from agricultural policy and programming that addresses unique needs in specific communities.

Pilgeram, R., Dentzman, K. & Lewin, P. 2022. Women, race and place in US Agriculture. Agric Hum Values 39, 1341–1355.

Katherine Dentzman , Ryanne Pilgeram , Paul Lewin, and Kelsey Conley

Research suggests queer farmers are both more prevalent than expected and different from other farmers in significant ways. Using 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture data, we investigate this premise using an innovative coding scheme to identify two-producer farms run by men married to men and women married to women. Our findings suggest a good deal of farms are run by queer farmers and are they significantly different in several ways from non-queer farms. We encourage further investigation of queer farmers using USDA Census of Agriculture data and provide the coding scheme needed to do so. We further call for a refinement of the USDA Census of Agriculture question regarding marital status making it easier to identify producers married to each other, and subsequently same-sex married producers.

Dentzman, K.; Pilgeram, R.; Lewin, P.; and Conley, K. 2021. Queer Farmers in the 2017 US Census of Agriculture. Society & Natural Resources, 34:2, 227-247.

Using Census of Agriculture (2017) data, we investigate the association between the principal operator's sexual orientation and farm profitability. Farms run by a male principal operator married to another male (MMM) have higher profits than farms run by a male principal operator married to a woman (MMW), a woman married to a man (WMM), and a woman married to another woman (WMW). Having two men on farm confers profit advantages. Compared with other marital combinations studied, MMM operate large-scale farms, are more experienced farmers, and are more likely to engage in commodity agriculture. Findings suggest gender, not sexual orientation, is driving the observed profit gaps.

Fisher, M.;  Lewin, P.;  Dentzman, K.; and  Pilgeram, R.  2023. Does Farmer Sexual Orientation Influence Profitability on US Farms? An Empirical Examination Using Census of Agriculture Data. Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy  1– 21.